noun \ˈten(t)s\

grammar : a form of a verb that is used to show when an action happened

Full Definition of TENSE

:  a distinction of form in a verb to express distinctions of time or duration of the action or state it denotes
a :  a set of inflectional forms of a verb that express distinctions of time
b :  an inflectional form of a verb expressing a specific time distinction

Examples of TENSE

  1. The sentence will read better if you change the tense of the verb.
  2. You should avoid changing tense in the middle of a paragraph.

Origin of TENSE

Middle English tens time, tense, from Anglo-French, from Latin tempus
First Known Use: 14th century



: nervous and not able to relax

: showing or causing nervousness

: not relaxed but hard and tight


Full Definition of TENSE

:  stretched tight :  made taut :  rigid <tense muscles>
a :  feeling or showing nervous tension <a tense smile>
b :  marked by strain or suspense <a tense thriller>
:  produced with the muscles involved in a relatively tense state <the vowels \ē\ and \ü\ in contrast with the vowels \i\ and \u̇\ are tense>
tense·ly adverb
tense·ness noun

Examples of TENSE

  1. She was feeling pretty tense.
  2. Why are you so tense?
  3. We sat quietly for a few tense moments.
  4. It was a tense meeting.
  5. My calf muscles are really tense.

Origin of TENSE

Latin tensus, from past participle of tendere to stretch — more at thin
First Known Use: 1668

Rhymes with TENSE



: to make (a muscle) hard and tight

: to become nervous or tense


Full Definition of TENSE

transitive verb
:  to make tense
intransitive verb
:  to become tense <tensed up and missed the putt>

Examples of TENSE

  1. She tensed as he walked toward her.
  2. He tensed up and missed the putt.

First Known Use of TENSE


Related to TENSE


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

In grammar, an inflected form of a verb indicating the time of a narrated event in relation to the time at which the narrator is speaking. Time is often perceived as a continuum with three main divisions, past, present, and future, defined in relation to the time when the event is described. Other categories, including mood and aspect, may further specify the action as definite or indefinite, completed or not completed, lasting or nonlasting, and recurring or occurring once.


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